Latest News

    Governance

    Some polling centres closed for discriminatory reasons: Samar

    KABUL (PAN): The chairman of the Independent Human Rights Commission on Wednesday accused officials of selectively closing polling stations.

    With just two days left until the parliamentary election, more than 1,000 polling stations have been closed across the country due to security concerns.

    But Sima Samar, the head of the rights body, told journalists on Wednesday that some of those closed centres were in peaceful areas and the people living there were being discriminated against.

    She gave as an example Ghazni province where some centres had been closed for genuine security concerns, but others in peaceful areas, were closed due to "discrimination".

    Samar is from Ghazni, a Pashtun majority province, but is an ethnic Hazara.

    The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has said that many centres were closed because the population was too small.

    However, Samar said that reason was not strong enough to justify the large number of centres closed in the province.

    As many as 107 polling centres have been declared vulnerable to attacks from militants closed.

    Samar said trust in the election process is key and that if people believe they are being discriminated against, they would lose faith in the process.

    "It would have been better if polling centres in some secure areas were open so that people could cast their votes there," she said.

    However, the IEC spokesman rejected the accusation that they were discriminating against parts of the population.

    Noor Muhammad Noor said that IEC was following Afghan law and that no one had been subjected to discrimination.

    Her remarks come at a time when Ministry of Defence on Wednesday announced polls would not take place in Nawa district of Ghazni because of security concerns.

    Samar also showed her concern over deteriorating security situation in the country and imminent violence on election day.

    From the start of election campaign day on June 23 until Wednesday, Samar said 111 violence-related incidents have been made against parliamentary candidates, their campaigners and their relatives.

    She said that the violent cases included 29 murders, 46 injuries and 36 abductions.

    She said a survey showed the violence was not committed just by armed opposition groups, but other armed groups and security forces too.

    "The security situation is very bad. I hope ISAF and national security forces will avoid its further deterioration," she said.

    She said that without adequate security, the turnout would be low.

    A spokesman for the IHRCA, Nadir Naderi, said that apart from security threats, influential and powerful people might also try to wield power and diminish the transparency of election.

    However, he suggested a high voter turnout could redress the chances of fraud.

    The support candidates by government officials and the existence of fake voting cards were other concerning the commission, he said.

    as/cas